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Release Date(s)1983 (December 7, 2010)
Studio(s)Universal (Criterion - Spine #248)
"Long live the new flesh."
David Cronenberg's 1983 science fiction masterpiece Videodrome has been heralded by many to be his greatest and most through-provoking work.
One year after Ridley Scott challenged viewers (via Phillip K. Dick) with the concept of 'What is human?' in Blade Runner, Cronenberg challenged audiences with the question 'What is reality?' Using a basic plot device of a rather sleazy cable TV owner who is determined to find the whereabouts of an underground pirate broadcast portraying the tortures and murders of its guests live - only to have his world become more and more unraveled the deeper he digs, making him question not just his morality but his sanity. Featuring some of the most impressive special makeup effects work ever from the one and only Rick Baker, this equivalent of a bad acid-trip has developed a legion of fans and helped put David Cronenberg on the map as a masterful filmmaker to be contended with.
As far as the video itself is concerned, Criterion's previous DVD release was a watershed moment in the film's home video release history, and now it's safe to say that this Blu-ray release surpasses it in superiority. To say the least, the video presentation is stunning. The most scrutinizing and tiniest bit of visual detail is here on display. Everything is extremely sharp, colors are even, blacks are deep and skin tones are very naturalistic. With one of the sharpest transfers I've ever seen, the film grain is absolutely solid throughout. This is not only the best this particular film has ever looked, it's also one of the best that any film from this period has looked on Blu-ray. This is a tried and true representation of a film negative and what the format was invented for. Definitely a title to show off to your friends. On the audio side of the things, you get the original uncompressed mono soundtrack. It's a very good soundtrack and complements the video very well. Dialogue is mixed well within the sound effects and score, so the aurally astute should have no problem while listening in.
Carried over from the DVD release are all of the remarkable supplemental materials. Starting with two audio commentaries, one with Cronenberg and cinematographer Mark Irwin and the other with actors James Woods and Deborah Harry. Next, Camera, a short film by Cronenberg, Forging the New Flesh, a small documentary about the film's groundbreaking makeup effects, Effects Men, an audio interview with Rick Baker and video effects supervisor Michael Lennick, Bootleg Video, all of the footage of "Samurai Dreams" and seven minutes of other transmissions used within the film - all with audio commentary from Cronenberg, and finally Fear on Film, a roundtable discussion made in 1982 by Mick Garris that features John Landis, John Carpenter and Cronenberg himself. You also get the original theatrical trailers and a short promotional featurette along with a stills gallery and a 36 page booklet featuring essays by writers Carrie Rickey, Tim Lucas, and Gary Indiana.
There's no denying that Videodrome is not only a genre classic but just a classic film in general. Worthy of seeing again and again and finding new things every time you see it, this amazing Blu-ray package can be of great help in that regard. An astounding A/V presentation along with a bounty of extra features to dig through, this is, without a doubt, one of the finest Blu-ray releases on the market today and belongs in any film fan's collection. Extremely recommended.
- Tim Salmons